University, dental school supporter leaves lasting legacy

Dr. Ledyard E. Ross Jr., community orthodontist and benefactor of East Carolina University and the ECU School of Dental Medicine, died on the evening of June 28. He was 96.

Dr. Ledyard E. Ross Jr., right, and his son Dr. Dennis Ross attended the opening ceremony for the new Dental Service Learning Center in Ahoskie.

Dr. Ledyard E. Ross Jr., right, and his son Dr. Dennis Ross attended the opening ceremony for the new Dental Service Learning Center in Ahoskie. (ECU Photos)

Ross committed $4 million in 2010 to name the dental school, leading to the school’s flagship facility holding the name Ledyard E. Ross Hall. The building not only bears his name, but stands as a lasting legacy to dental professionals, from students to career specialists — especially those committed to caring for patients in rural areas.

His commitment to our mission will live on in the students whose passion is in providing care in rural areas of North Carolina,” said Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine. “His generosity represented his belief in the mission of our school and the vision we shared with him for a new school that could provide dental care access to the very corners of our state.”

A 1951 graduate of then East Carolina College, Ross was a supporter of several academic and athletic initiatives at the university since establishing his dental practice in Greenville. He was a member of the Leo Jenkins Society and Order of the Cupola.

When Ross Hall opened in 2012, the man behind its name stood as inspiration to future dentists committed to serving the state’s rural areas. Consequentially, he also served as an inspiration to his son.

Dr. Dennis Ross grew up watching his father work as an orthodontist in Greenville. It motivated him to become an orthodontist himself and follow in his father’s footsteps, eventually taking over the business of Ross Orthodontics.

“My dad’s dream when he put the money forth for the dental school was for everybody to have access to care,” said Ross’ son, who took over the business of Ross Orthodontics.

Ross was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and a WWII veteran. After attending ECTC he entered Northwestern University Dental School, completing his doctorate in dental surgery degree in 1953 and then a master’s degree in orthodontics from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1959. Ross then began his practice in Greenville which he continued until 1991 when he turned it over to his son. In addition to his well-respected orthodontist practice, Ross emerged during these decades as a successful businessman, at the center of various real estate ventures in North and South Carolina.

Throughout his career, Ross was a generous supporter of ECU, providing resources for athletics as well as academics. His most renowned contribution, however, was to the new dental school.

“Dr. Ross’ philanthropic impact at ECU is immeasurable,” said Chris Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement. “The legacy of the Ross family, which started with Ledyard and continues with his son Dennis, will forever be part of ECU through the students we educate and the communities we serve.”

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